Hossie Terrace

Hossie Terrace is named in honour of John Hossie, the second sheriff of Perth County

John Hossie Stratford-Perth Archives

158 John St.

John Hossie, sheriff

In 1872, John Hossie succeeded Robert Moderwell (see Moderwell Street) as the second sheriff of the county of Perth. He had worked in the sheriff’s office, so the transition was both logical and easy, and provided for seamless ongoing work within the county.

Hossie was born in the Moore Township, in Lambton County, Ontario, on July 5, 1836. His father, Andrew Hossie, a farmer, was from Scotland, as was his mother, Janet Wilson. 

John Hossie received a “common” school education (see Flashback on Early Schools) and farmed until he was 14. In 1850, he left home and entered the business world as a clerk in a store in Bayfield, Ont. In 1856, at age 20, he was hired as a clerk in the sheriff’s office in Stratford. A few years later, he took on the responsibilities of bailiff, which called upon him to execute court judgements which could include serving legal orders for the repossession of goods, or the carrying out of evictions. He was also the court officer responsible for the custody of prisoners.

From bailiff he rose to be deputy sheriff under his brother-in-law, Robert Moderwell. With that appointment came additional court-related responsibilities, including courthouse security and the maintainence of order.  

In 1872, when Robert Moderwell (see Moderwell Street) retired as the first sheriff of Perth County, Hossie filled the vacancy. As sheriff, he was required to execute and enforce court orders, warrants and writs; participate in seizure and sale of property; and perform courtroom and other related duties. 

Sheriff Hossie 

Chattelle, hands manacled, (middle) passes the Perth County courthouse on his way to coroner's inquest. Sheriff John Hossie (left) Stratford police constable, McCarthy, accompany the prisoner. Stratford-Perth Archives

Contemporary documents that must have provided material for his Access Genealogy biography, suggest that “in every office which he has held he has proved faithful and efficient in the discharge of his duties.” He is reported as being “one of that class of men who are always found at their post, ready to attend to business.”

In October 1876, Hossie married Katherine (Kate) Linton, of Stratford, daughter of John J. E. Linton (see Linton Avenue), formerly the clerk of the peace for the county of Perth. According to an article in the Stratford-Perth Archives, they built a red-brick house designed by Harry. J. Newell on Avondale Avenue at a cost of $4,000. It was described as "one of the handsomest residences in the city." There were fireplaces throughout, and it was fitted with all the modern conveniences of electric bells, water, gas and hot-water heating appliances. The inside woodwork was "oiled pine." 

The author of Hossie's brief biography wrote that he "attends the Presbyterian church, but is not, we believe, a communicant.” However, it was noted in an article published at the time of his death in the Stratford Daily Beacon (see article below), that he was a "regular attender and liberal supporter of Knox." (see Ontario Street).

John Hossie  was involved with the sensational trial and execution of Amédée Chattelle, who brutally murdered 13-year-old Jessie Keith. Hossie was among those who boarded a train to the swampy wood where Jessie was found on the night of the murder. He severely restricted press access, and also escorted the prisoner to the trial and gallows. See Trial and Execution The Trial and Execution of  Amédée Chattelle, Stratford 1895

When John Hossie retired, he had been a Stratford resident for 51 years and was considered "a walking encyclopedia" of its early development. He lived in Stratford after his retirement and died in 1905 in his home at 158 John St. N at the age of 70. He and his wife had no children. After her husband's death, Kate (Linton) Hossie, who had been born in Stratford in 1845, moved to California, where she lived until her death in 1936 at age 91. Her body was returned to Stratford for burial with her husband.  Source: Access Genealogy  Researched by Gord Conroy

Photo: Stratford-Perth Archives

Sheriff Hossie eulogized in the Beacon

The Stratford Daily Beacon carried news of the death of John Hossie on Page 1 on Monday, May 6, 1907. What follows are excerpts from the story.

The opening of the article mentions how news the death spread rapidly through the city with  "manifestations on every side of  sorrow" about the passing of the man who had become a "landmark in the county's history." 

It was reported that Hossie suffered for some time from Bright's' disease, which had made "inroads on his splendid constitution,"  though he remained "conscious, cheerful and patient up to the last." Bright's disease is a historical classification of kidney diseases that are described in modern medicine as acute or chronic nephritis. It was characterized by swelling and the presence of albumin in the urine, and was frequently accompanied by high blood pressure and heart disease. 

Hossie was described as a  disciplinarian of the strictest type, who nevertheless was the most kind-hearted of men; those who knew him best, respected him most. He was the very soul of honour and could not countenance the slightest departure in anybody else from the code that he believed in. 

The article noted that he had a strong desire to do right and to have right done. Although he was a Liberal, he was always impartial and fair. Public trust was with him a public trust and he fulfilled the trust to the letter. 

Hossie was considered  one of the model sheriffs of the province, but in addition to his duties in the sheriff's office and in the court, he was lauded for his work in establishing the City of Stratford General Hospital (see John Street) in 1889. The hospital was later known as Avon Crest, when a new hospital was built. He was the first chairman of the hospital trust, and it was noted he retired only a couple of years ago. The article noted he managed at great personal sacrifice to make daily visits to the hospital and and left nothing undone that would "promote its beneficent objects and financial welfare." 

On a personal level, the article noted he was a sociable man with the faculty of winning and retaining friends. His home life was described as ideal. He loved horses and drove, for many years, one of the most spirited teams in the county. It also noted that a monument to his regard for children was the Stratford skating rink (see Water Street), the largest in the province, which was erected under his presidency and management to mainly provide a place of innocent amusement for the youth of the town.  Source:  Death of Mr. Sheriff Hossie, in Stratford Daily Beacon, Monday, May 6, 1907; Stratford-Perth Archives